Saddam Offers American Deal
Sep 21 2003
From Paul Martin In Baghdad
SADDAM Hussein has been in
secret negotiations with US forces in Iraq for the past nine days,
we can reveal.
The Iraqi dictator is
demanding safe passage to the former Soviet republic of Belarus. In
exchange, he has vowed to provide information on weapons of mass
destruction and disclose bank accounts where he siphoned off tens of
millions of dollars in plundered cash.
President Bush is being
kept abreast of the extraordinary talks by his National Security
advisor Condoleezza Rice. She is co-ordinating negotiations in
Baghdad which are led by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of
American forces in Iraq.
The United States has vowed
never to negotiate with Saddam and want to take him dead or alive,
but the White House hopes the clandestine talks will allow them to
pinpoint the tyrant's exact location.
representative walked into the US HQ at Tikrit - the dictator's home
town - on September 12 and asked to talk to senior officers.
He then led a group of US
troops to a nearby suburb where one of Saddam's loyal security
chiefs was waiting. The US officers were handed a hand-written note,
purportedly from Saddam himself.
The security boss had a
British-made Racal military radio set which he claimed gave him
direct contact with people in the same room as the dictator. The
radio is notoriously difficult to monitor.
He was immediately taken
into custody, but the US has continued to exchange messages with
Saddam using the radio and other means.
A senior Iraqi told The
Sunday Mirror last night: "A representative of Saddam dressed
in Western-style civilian clothes came to coalition people at Tikrit
at sunset on September 12. He led them to a house where the security
official was waiting.
"The discussions are
now going on under the direct authority of General Sanchez.
Naturally all the major decisions are being made at the level of the
National Security Council, under Condoleezza Rice."
He maintained that Saddam
had decided to seek a deal "because he is desperate, trapped
and finding fewer and fewer people willing to give him shelter."
He added: "He resorts
to arriving with a posse of armed men, and forcing them to give him
hospitality. When he leaves the frightened 'hosts' are told they'll
be killed if they say a word."
It is believed the US
authorities will simply string Saddam along, aiming to track the go-betweens
until they know exactly where to find the rogue leader.
"There's no doubt the
net is closing, and that his supporters' efforts to get the
Americans to pull out of Iraq are not succeeding," said the
"They can cause
disruption and problems, but this does not bring Saddam any nearer
to coming back to power, and he now knows it. The negotiators will
try to keep the line of communication open as long as possible, but
the word from Washington is: 'No deal'."
Saddam left strong hints
that he was willing to talk in his last audio tape on Wednesday. It
had a strongly defiant tone, but contained two significant
indications that he was keen for a deal:
-SADDAM addressed the US
president directly and gave him a possible get-out for a negotiated
surrender. "There might be some who lied to you, but you
believed those lies," he said, hinting that coalition
intelligence was badly wrong.
-HE added: "If you
want to discuss the withdrawal arrangements, some of the officials
in the leadership arrested by your army ... you can contact them and
hold a suitable dialogue."
Although Saddam was still
proposing an unconditional American withdrawal from Iraq, coalition
chiefs took his latest statement as a willingness to talk.
Since the fall of Baghdad
in April the dictator has remained on the run.
Saddam-hunters say he moves
disguised as a peasant or labourer in a long white dishdasha (gown),
especially in remote countryside.
Fearing he will be spotted
and betrayed, he seldom stays in one place for more than two hours.
He is often sheltered by tribal leaders whom he appointed to replace
the real leaders during his reign of terror.
"They owe their very
existence and their status and money to him, so they feel a strong
obligation," said one hunter.
"But the feeling of
obligation gets less and less as time passes and the pressure mounts."
He is also believed to have
made brief visits to Baghdad in brazen defiance of the occupying US
One senior Iraqi told me:
"He had set up over 1,000 hiding places before the fall, and I
guess he goes from one to the other these days. When he was in power,
even cabinet ministers wouldn't know where meetings were to be held.
"They were taken to a
small bus, or if they were very senior the security sent a car. He's
been a master of survival."
Saddam hunters have issued
several photofit images of how he might look.
He has apparently run out
of black hair-dye and will almost certainly have white hair.
"He's moving every two
hours and he's not staying set," said Colonel Don Campbell,
chief of staff of the 4th Infantry Division. "He has to."
Saddam has demanded to go
to Belarus, the former Soviet republic which still has a president
and leadership descended from the old guard Communist Party era.
Before the war the
Americans told Saddam he could leave the country, but he spurned the
Since then President Bush
has rejected any idea of making a deal with the ousted leader and
has put a $25million dead-or-alive bounty on his head.
-AN American soldier shot
and killed a tiger in Baghdad's zoo after it attacked a colleague
who had put his arms through the bars to feed it. "They turned
up after the zoo was closed and were both drunk", an Iraqi
(de YupiMSN y éste de EFE)
Londres, 21 sep (EFE).- El
ex presidente iraquí Saddam Hussein negocia en secreto su futuro
con Estados Unidos, según publica hoy el periódico sensacionalista
británico "Sunday Mirror".
Este diario asegura que el dictador, cuyo paradero se desconoce,
lleva nueve días de conversaciones con las fuerzas estadounidenses
desplegadas en el país árabe.
Según "Sunday Mirror", un tabloide tradicionalmente
favorable al laborismo del primer ministro, Tony Blair, pero que se
opuso a la guerra, Saddam Hussein pide un exilio seguro en
Bielorrusia, antigua república de la Unión Soviética.
A cambio, se habría comprometido a facilitar información sobre las
armas de destrucción masiva y de sus cuentas bancarias.
De acuerdo con el periódico, que cita a fuentes iraquíes, el
presidente de EEUU, George W. Bush, está al corriente de estas
negociaciones a través de su consejera de Seguridad Nacional,
Rice coordina desde Bagdad las conversaciones -dice el rotativo-,
que encabeza el teniente general Ricardo Sánchez, comandante de las
fuerzas estadounidenses sobre el terreno.
La Casa Blanca espera, a través de estos contactos, localizar el
paradero del ex presidente iraquí, añade el diario.
Según el corresponsal Paul Martin, firmante del artículo, los
contactos se iniciaron cuando un representante anglo-parlante de
Sadam se personó en el cuartel general de EEUU en Tikrit, ciudad
natal del dictador, el pasado 12 de septiembre.
Esta persona condujo a un grupo de soldados estadounidenses hasta un
suburbio cercano, donde les aguardaba uno de los responsables de
seguridad del depuesto líder.
Este hombre les entregó una nota manuscrita, supuestamente por el
propio Saddam, con quien, además, estaba en contacto por radio.
El jefe de seguridad fue detenido, pero, según el diario, las
fuerzas de EEUU continúan hablando con el fugitivo a través del
Una fuente iraquí dijo a "Sunday Mirror" que Sadam está
dispuesto a llegar a un acuerdo "porque está desesperado,
atrapado y sin gente dispuesta a refugiarle". EFE